In this three-part series on IT computer networking, we are going to take a step back and look at the what, why and how. We are going to understand what it is and what the different types of networks are. We are going to look at why you would choose one over another and we are going to look at how a well-built quality network can help your business grow and expand with confidence in your IT that you should have. When it comes to computer networks, cutting corners in terms of cost, equipment used and general maintenance the basic advice is ‘Don’t!’ A poorly set up and cheap network will cause more harm than good in the long run. It is a worthwhile investment and getting the right support to keep you up and running is paramount.
What is a network? By connecting two or more computers together, you create a network. These computers can communicate with each other and share information and resources. There are different types of networks depending on the structure or framework of these computers. The layers of the network can be built upon to make a larger overall network. Keeping in mind that this structure can be built upon, a solid base gives the right foundation for larger and more complex networks to be built.
Local Area Network
A Local Area Network (LAN) connects two or more computers that are on one site. Therefore this network is based around one small space such as an office or school and is run from a centralized computer where the network software and shared files are stored. Wire cables, fibre-optic cables or radio frequencies connect these workstations.
Wide Area Network
A Wide Area Network (WAN) allows two or more computers that are in different or multiple locations to be connected. A WAN requires a server in a centralised location and is the main hub of the network. Users can then access the files or data while they are away from their main workstation. The user connects using a telephone, ISDN line or Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Wireless Local Area Network
A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) allows for wireless connection for two or more devices. It uses high-frequency radio waves and often includes an access point to the Internet. This network allows users ease of movement within a certain coverage area (i.e. home or small office) while maintaining a network connection.
Metropolitan Area Network
A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic area or region larger than that covered by even a large local area network (LAN) but smaller than the area covered by a wide area network (WAN).
Storage Area Network
A storage area network (SAN) is a network that gives enhanced access to data. This network is commonly used for disk arrays and tape libraries. It is accessible to servers so that the devices appear to the operating system as locally attached devices. It is generally not accessible through the local area network (LAN) by other devices.
Campus Area Network / Corporate Area Network
A campus area network (CAN) is smaller than a WAN. Yet, this is a network of multiple interconnected local area networks in a limited geographical area.
Personal Area Network PAN
Finally, the range of a personal area network’s (PAN) is usually limited to about 10m. It is a small network that connects an individual’s devices around their workstation.
Check out our next blog in the series to understand the advantages and disadvantages of computer networking. We will consider why companies should look at developing a multi-sided platform. Customers can access products and services with increased ease at reduced costs. This platform has the capacity to attract other businesses. This can bring unlimited value by, for example, reducing research and development costs, expediting commercialization, while simultaneously offering complementary products, services, training, investment, marketing, and sales.